The Timeless Appeal of Grandmillennial Style

By Grace Cassidy

If you’ve followed interior design trends over the last few years, you’ve likely heard about the rise of grandmillenial style.

Often described with some variation on the phrase “your grandma’s house, but newer,” grandmillennial—a blend of grandmother and the millennials who stan them—was first defined by the writer Emma Bazilian, whose June 2021 article about her devotion to “granny chic” for House Beautiful celebrated the hipness of wicker, chintz and other homey touches favored by the Greatest Generation.

Ariel Okin

“It’s traditional design, but freshened up,” said Ariel Okin, an interior designer based in New York City. “But I don’t necessarily think it’s older in nature. It’s more guided by an appreciation for traditional silhouettes, like a roll-arm English sofa or antique pieces, mixed in with more contemporary accents such as modern lighting or artwork.”

McKenzie Ryan, a Douglas Elliman real estate agent and New York City historian, sees the popularity of the style as a testament to durability of certain period styles.

McKenzie Ryan

“Our parents and grandparents, who lived throughout some of the most stylish decades, have become a great source of insight and inspiration,” Ryan said. “We have found ways to incorporate the Gilded Age and beyond into our homes, and even in the clothing that we wear. We can use interior design and statement pieces to reflect and express our personalities, quite similar to how the Astors and Vanderbilts displayed status in their mansions.”

Going Grandmillennial

When it comes to incorporating this design into your own home, it’s always advisable to start small and work your way up, as you should when experimenting with any new style.

Ornately gilded frames for instant granny grandeur. (Photo: Hana Bae via Unsplash)
Classic blue-and-white china as decorative accents. (Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash)

Classic blue-and-white china tableware is a great place to start—try adding some of these vintage ceramic platters and tea service pieces to the bookshelves or entryway console tables. Decorative items with floral prints, from throw pillows and vases to wallpaper—or even a vase full of actual flowers, such as fresh hydrangea—make great additions that will immediately bring some granny grandeur into the home.

Ornately gilded frames for instant granny grandeur. (Photo: Hana Bae via Unsplash)
Grandma-approved gilded frames. (Photo: Hana Bae via Unsplash)

Given its retro aesthetic, going grandmillenial doesn’t have to break your budget. Along with taking stock of any family heirlooms and antiques collecting dust, “thrift and vintage shops should be at the top of your list,” says Ryan, who urges NYC residents to take some exploratory day trips outside the city. “The best thrifting is in former industrial hubs where there was once major industry and wealth in its heyday. Think: Albany, Central New York, Connecticut and, of course, more rural areas like New Hampshire and Vermont.”

Ryan also advocates embellishing or refurbishing select items you already own, such as gilding a mirror frame or reupholstering a couch or chair. And it can pair well with other classic styles, she adds, such as Art Deco, bohemian, contemporary, Hollywood, eclectic and French Country.

Interior by Ariel Okin. (Photo: www.arielokin.com)

Make It New

The key, of course, is to maintain some contemporary elements that distinguish your style from what you might actually find in your grandparents’ home. You don’t want your space to look dated

“Grandmillenial design is really about an appreciation for the classics,” says Okin, who recommends updating lighting, faucets, hardware and other fixtures throughout the home. “Scour estate sales, pick up a set of vintage china or check out sites like Chairish and 1stdibs to incorporate beautiful antiques into your space for reasonable prices.”

According to Okin, grandmillennial décor is ideal for anyone who is “trend-averse and wants a classic home that can stand the test of time.”

“The grandmillenial look isn’t really a trend so much as a theme found in traditional or classically designed homes,” said Okin. “It’s all about layering and mixing patterns and silhouettes for a timeless aesthetic.”

If your interior design taste runs more Art Deco and Neoclassical, explore the classic New York grandeur of this stunning seven-room maisonette in an iconic Fifth Avenue Prewar building.

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